I though this book was creative, well-written, and even suspenseful (although I don't think I would have made it through the entire book had it not been one for my love of "Time Traveler's Wife." It did have some bright spots - my favorite character was Martin, afflicted with OCD. I thought the younger twins were immature and Valentina's motivation completely unbelievable. It would have been better had she NOT wanted "the plan" (trying not to spoil) to happen and to have Elspeth do what she did regardless - now THAT would have been sinister. Such a shame. Loved the plot twists - didn't see that coming, though a lot of other parts were blatantly foreshadowed.
I agree.. a more sinister ending would have been much more satisfying. I had thought perhaps V. would switch herself with J. at the last minute so she could finally be free, or that perhaps we would find out Robert was behind the whole thing. Something other than the way it fizzled out.. Still, I enjoyed it and wish there were more along these lines out there..
I really liked it--better than "Time Travele's Wife," but I like ghost stories. I would love to ask a question about the ending, but don't want to spoil anything for others. I believe the younger twins were meant to be immature--how else could there have been a story? A mature person wouldn't have taken the option Valentina did. I thought it more sinister with Valentina agreeing with the plan because of the betrayal aspect. Personally, betrayal is particularly sinister to me.
I just finished this book and completely agree with you. I think the author could have handled what happened to Valentina much differently, and would have preferred her to do so. I thought the "twin switching" scenario was really unbelievable and would have never happened (trying not to put any spoilers.) Other than those two things, it was a great book.
I don't believe that Elspeth really tried to put Valentina back - i think she knew all along that she would put herself into the body. And I think Robert figured that out. He had said that Espeth had lost something of her humanity. It was her own daughter .... she killed her to live. If that's not sinister, not sure what is!
I really enjoyed this book. I've always been fascinated by Highgate Cemetary and when I read about this story taking place there, I knew I had to read it. I actually still haven't read The Time Traveler's Wife (seriously!) but I really enjoyed her writing and how she was so precise with the British vernacular. The plot twists were fun, and most of them somewhat unexpected (but a few were quite predictable). I thought it was really interesting the way she made Valentina out to be more of a victim, but as it turns out she's not what you think. And Julia doesn't seem to have any redeemable qualities (at least to me, she drove me nuts for most of the book) until the last part of the book and you really feel for her. And Elspeth...what a fantastic character! Overall, I really enjoyed this story.
I'm a little confused...why did Elspeth end up with Jack, even though she didn't like him.
Robert's Elspeth didn't end up with Jack in the long run. The Elspeth who died slept with a drunken Jack as an April Fool's Day prank and got pregnant. Edwina (who raised the twins) had been dating Jack when this happened. She had also been pretending to be her twin and pretended to seduce Jack away from her sister and run off with him. (The apparent reason that they no longer spoke.) The pregnant Elspeth then posed as her sister Edwina, returned to Chicago with Jack, gave birth to the twins, and then returned to London four months later. That's when they switched places, and the Edwina who raised the twins returned to Chicago. Does that help?
I like this book quite a bit because it was different and I enjoy "living " in the spirit world. I kept wondering because of the ghost references if it would get to the point where another character in the story may have felt the spirits in the Highgate cemetary. I was happy for Valentina and Kitty at the end.
I read this book after reading TTW because I love Niffeneggers style of writing and her use of imagination. The way ghosts grew and how they lived after death was fascinating and refreshing. I loved the characters; Martin was one my favourite, his accomplishment in the book nicely contrasts with the doom and gloom elsewhere. I loved Elspeth at the start, but at the point where she agrees to fulfil Valentinas wishes, to then later do what she did (I don't want to spoil it for anyone), I began to see her as a selfish character, but by the end of the book, I think she realised what goes around comes around.
This book doesn't match to the standards of TTW, but it was definitely a good read. Once I got into the book I found it hard to put it down :)
i agree that Martin is a great character. His and Julia's friendship is nice.
At the last chapter, Elspeth (Robert's Elspeth) came home with the baby, saw the finished thesis and realized Robert was nowhere to be found. And then she smiled. Does that mean she was happy the thesis had been finished or that Robert had gone?
Did Robert go away because he couldn't stand to be away from London or because he didn't love Elspeth anymore or both?
And why can Julia see Valentina's ghost when she couldn't see Elspeth's before?
i think julia could see the ghost because she was more in touch with the person when she was alive. i think it had to do with how compassionate she was. also i think elspeth smiled because of the thesis and then she realised he wouldn't come back. what robert did though is a mystery. either valentina took his sole to get revenge or he ran away from elspeth.
Oh, right. Yeah, she was indeed very passionate.
I'd like to think he ran away from Elspeth because he found she was not the same anymore. I don't think Valentina was the type who would take revenge?
Thank you, Nat! :)
I thought he couldn't stand Elsbeth anymore...what she was capable of both in her given life and the fact that she stole a life. She was a participant and catalyst in the first destruction of she and her sister's relationship and she effectively destroyed Julia and Valentina's relationship.
The passage about Valentina and Julia at the end was, I believe, written as an afterthought. A little hand-out to the readers who cared about Valentina and didn't want to think of her locked in the apartment. I didn't care for it, it felt rushed, as if the author didn't really care about these elements as well. I see no rhyme or reason why Julia can see her, except that it helped to tie up loose ends.
Robert left because he finally realized how evil Elspeth really was. He told Valentina not to trust her; that she had changed. But even when she was alive he stated that Elspeth wasn't that nice. He also told Elspeth that he would never forgive her for what she did to Valentina. So I think once she admitted that she was plotting to live in the country since she was 8 years old, he realized how conniving she was and that not even death could stop her from getting what she wanted. On her deathbed she said they should have had children (just a little foreshadowing). She smiled because his thesis was finished, (probably wrote about what happened --he said he was including stuff that they wouldn't like but needed to be told) and he didn't give a d*** about her anymore.
While the writing was well done and the plot was certainly imaginative, I didn't care for this book. Am I the only one who found it incredibly creepy, disturbing, and depressing? Yes, there was some happiness for Martin and his wife, but overall, the characters were not likable. But then, I found the same thing to be true of TTW (although I liked that book quite a bit more), so I think I will stay away from Niffenegger in the future.
Audrey Niffeneggar did not write a tight story. Although this can be confusing for the reader, I like a novel, once in a while that allows me to come to my own conclusions.
I will be pondering all the possible scenarios for some time.
(Spolier!) Okay, does anyone think Elspeth might have lied about Valelntina not being able to get back into her body? Because by the end, I got the impression that she was selfish and maybe that was her intention all along. To come back to Robert.
Yes, I agree. If she wanted to be with Robert in spirit she would have left him her flat so they could still be together. Her plan was more devious. That's why the twins had to stay a year ...to give her time to win Valentina's trust. Elspeth was a dominant twin, and she knew Valentina was the weaker twin who wanted to get out from under her sister's control. Just like her mom wanted to do many years ago. Elspeth didn't want the twins..she gave them away. Even when they were in her flat she wished they were gone so she could be alone with Robert.
Yes...I think she lied..In fact when she and Valentina were plotting it, Elspeth had decided what she would do.. but it was little dark and morbid, considerring Valentina is her daughter.